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Pregnant women urged to have whooping cough vaccine

3 September, 2015

Pregnant women urged to have whooping cough vaccine

Public Health England (PHE) is calling for pregnant women to take up the whooping cough vaccine.

Public Health England (PHE) is calling for pregnant women to take up the whooping cough vaccine.

The news comes after surveillance figures confirm that whooping cough activity remains at raised levels in England.

However, new data published today shows that just 56.4% of pregnant women have the vaccine.  

Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, said: ‘This has our support and we echo this appeal for pregnant women to have this vaccine during pregnancy.

‘Whooping cough can have fatal consequences for a child and they are particularly vulnerable in the fist two months of life, when they are effectively unprotected against this disease until they have their first vaccination at two months.

‘Women must also be aware of the importance of having the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as they become pregnant.

‘If any pregnant woman is unsure about either of these vaccines, I would urge them to speak to their midwife or doctor to discuss the issue.’

Pregnant women in the UK have been offered whooping cough vaccine since October 2012 in response to the national outbreak.

PHE research discovered that babies born to women who were vaccinated at least a week before birth had a 91% reduced risk of becoming ill with whooping cough in their first weeks of life, compared to babies whose mothers had not been vaccinated.

Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE head of immunisation, said: ‘The latest figures show that whooping cough is still prevalent in England and it’s important that pregnant women visit their GP surgery or midwife to get vaccinated, ideally between weeks 28 and 32 of their pregnancy.

‘Being vaccinated against whooping cough while you’re pregnant is a highly-effective way to protect your baby in the first few weeks of their life.

‘The immunity you get from the vaccine passes to your baby and provides them with protection until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated against whooping cough at two months old.

‘We encourage pregnant women to discuss the vaccination with their doctor or midwife at their next appointment.’

For more information and to read the PHE report, click here

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